Rays Spring Game 7: Nate Karns, Trade Acquisitions Get Chance to Shine

By Robbie Knopf

After a rainout yesterday versus the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays are back in action today as Alex Cobb takes the hill for his second start at 1:05 PM against the Toronto Blue Jays. Here is the Rays’ lineup:

1. Desmond Jennings, CF
2. Matt Joyce, LF
3. Wil Myers, DH
4. Logan Forsythe, 3B
5. Ryan Hanigan, C
6. Jayson Nix, 2B
7. Kevin Kiermaier, RF
8. Jerry Sands, 1B
9. Sean Rodriguez, SS

Starting Pitcher: Alex Cobb

It’s nice to have Cobb back on the mound for his second start of the spring season. We saw a lot of fastballs from him last time out, and it will be interesting to see if he starts working in his curveball more this time around. Cobb made major strides with his curveball in 2013, at times using it as his primary breaking pitch ahead of his split-change, and Cobb will look to get it working more consistently this season.

The Rays feature a nice mix of regulars and players competing for spots in this game, and one interesting thing is that a bunch of players are not playing in their most comfortable positions: Rodriguez at shortstop, Nix at second base, and Kiermaier in right field. Logan Forsythe will also keep working at third base, a position he has played just 41 times in his major league career. All four look to showcase that they can just play at other positions but play strong defensively wherever they go.

Sands has been a player to watch this spring as he has three hits in his first six games, all for extra bases. Sands’ power is what makes him an interesting option for the Rays’ bench. With Brandon Guyer out of options, Sands faces long odds to win the role of David DeJesus‘ platoon partner. However, health has been a problem for Guyer in recent years, and Sands could be the first player the Rays turn to should he get injured again.

Behind Cobb, we will also see Brandon GomesNate Karns, Brad Boxberger, and Matt Andriese. What do those four have in common? Other than the fact that they are all right-handed, all of them were acquired in trades, with the former three joining the club this offseason. Gomes looked extremely impressive with his cutter last time out, and he will hope to follow that up in this game as well. Nate Karns was scheduled to pitch in yesterday’s game prior to the rain, and then he had further bad luck because the simulated game afterwards was canceled before he got to pitch. Instead, he will take the hill today and hope to stand out with his fastball and curveball while working on his changeup.

Finally, we have the two acquisitions from the Alex Torres trade in Boxberger and Andriese (plus a third in Forsythe). Boxberger was working on his slider in his last outing, and it will be interesting to see if he mixes in his changeup more today as he hopes to ramp up his pursuit of a bullpen role. Then there is Andriese, who impressed thoroughly with his sinker and slider in his first game with the team and will not head back to Triple-A without a fight. A major league rotation spot may be unlikely for Boxberger, but an effective spring could make him the first rotation option in case of injury. It will be great to see Cobb, and the excitement will not wane for the following four pitchers as they all look to catch the Rays’ eyes.

The game will be broadcast at MLB Network as well as on MLB.TV. Enjoy watching and check back later today at Rays Colored Glasses for all the analysis you need.